The 6th century Hagia Sophia, one of the marvels of modern architecture, was the main seat of the Greek Orthodox Church until the siege of Constantinople – now Istanbul – in 1453. It then became a mosque and is has been a museum since 1935.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed the desire to turn the Hagia Sophia monument into a mosque again. These statements, made during his pre-election campaign, showed an intent to make the Hagia Sophia an operational mosque following the elections on Sunday, March 31.
He returned to the issue again on Wednesday, stating his interest in converting the monument in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. The area had been gained by Israel from Syria in 1967.
In another part of his speech, Mr Erdogan referred to the history of Istanbul. “Constantinople will never exist again,” he said”The name of this area is Islambol (full of Islam) and you know that.”
UNESCO sources cited by the Greek media, however, stated that such a change in the world heritage-listed buildings operation would require approval by the Paris-based organisation.